Exalted, Most High, Above all others. These are the connotations of El Elyon. An apt description for an Infinite Being who defies all human description. This name is not widely known but shows up in some of the most fascinating narratives of the Old Testament!
El Elyon is a compound of El, God, and Elyon, the highest, exalted, most high. This name is first declared in relation to the priest Melchizedek, king of Salem, later renamed Jerusalem. In Genesis 14 he invokes the Name as a blessing on Abram.
El Elyon appears to indicate a preeminence above other deities in a pantheon. Abram emerged from a pantheistic society that subscribed to regional deities. The region of Ur, where Abraham was from, primarily worshiped Nanna the moon goddess. In Genesis 12, Moses uses the personal name for God, YHWH, as calling Abram out of his homeland and promising to bless him and his family in the land of Canaan.
Abram’s nephew, Lot, after associating himself with the King of Sodom, was captured by a rival king and taken north of Damascus. Abram not only rescued his nephew but defeated the enemy forces and returned with the spoils of war.
Melchizedek proclaimed the Most Exalted God as Possessor/Creator of the Earth and offers Abram a blessing. Abram accepts this blessing and appears to progress from acknowledging YHWH as not just another deity but as the preeminent deity and creator of everything. He rejects the overtures of the King of Sodom with his own proclaimation of this Name.
Why would Abram defer to Melchizedek? The Bible is distinctly vague about the identity of Melchizedek and the writer of Hebrews uses this example and lack of definition within the line of the patriarchs as a foreshadow of Jesus Christ. Some extrabiblical scholars attempt to make a case for Melchizedek being a title, King of Righteousness, given to Shem, the son of Noah and progenitor of Abram’s family. In Genesis 9:26 Noah declares, “Blessed be the LORD (YHWH), the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.” Positing Melchizedek as the heir of Noah and the oldest living man of that era might explain Abraham paying him tribute and for the priest to in turn bless Abraham in the name of the Most High God.
There is no consensus on dating the genealogies of Shem and Abraham so while it is an interesting thought it is not the main point my study. This is a study of the Names of God. Regardless of their respective timelines, Abram’s family had assimilated into the pagan traditions of Ur until YHWH called him to the land of Canaan.
The name is next mentioned in the Book of Numbers when the pagan oracle, Balaam, is recorded using the name in his prophecy about the Hebrew God.
The name appears in Deuteronomy 32:8 in “Moses’ Song”. This is the final book of the Torah. The name is invoked in reference to the “days of old” when the Most High divided the nations and fixed the borders of the people.
The Victory Song of King David in 2 Samuel 22:14 invokes this name specifically in relation to the name YHWH. This connection with David also make the numerous references throughout the Psalms and Lamentations understandable.
Interestingly Isaiah uses this name in connection to the story of the Prince of Babylon which is often believed to be a relation of the fall of Lucifer/Satan from Heaven.
An Aramaic form of this name appears six times in the Book of Daniel which is also where the name “Ancient of Days” appears.
Finally, a Greek form is invoked twice in the New Testament. Both in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is referred to as the Son of the Most High and John the Baptist specifically is identified as the prophet of the Most High.
The significance of this Name is difficult to overstate but identifies Elohim/YHWH as preeminent and exalted. It is invoked at pivotal moments to describe HIM in the most ancient sense and as the Creator of all things.
YOU ARE EL ELYON. YOU have been since before time and YOUR NAME will continue to be associated with righteousness and justice as long as it is proclaimed.
Thank YOU for making YOURSELF known even through unwilling prophets like Balaam and the prince of Babylon.
Thank YOU for drawing Abram back out of the darkness of paganism and into YOUR SERVICE.
YOUR priest, Melchizedek, and YOUR prophet, John the Baptist and most importantly YOUR SON, JESUS CHRIST, are our examples of your Righteousness for all eras.
Bless YOUR HOLY NAME
In JESUS’ Name, ~ Amen
References of the name El Elyon in the Old Testament:
Story of Melchizedek
Genesis 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Genesis 14:22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth,
Story of Balaam
Numbers 24:16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered:
Moses’ final Song
Deu 32:8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
Song of David; Identified with YHWH
2 Samuel 22:14 The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice.
Psalm 7:17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
Psalm 9:2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 18:13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.
Psalm 21:7 For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Psalm 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
Psalm 47:2 For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
Psalm 50:14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,
Psalm 57:2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
Psalm 73:11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Psalm 77:10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
Psalm 78:17 Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
Psalm 78:35 They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.
Psalm 78:56 Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies,
Psalm 82:6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
Psalm 83:18 that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 87:5 And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.
Psalm 91:9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge—
Psalm 92:1 [ How Great Are Your Works ] [ A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath. ] It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
Identified with YHWH
Psalm 97:9 For you, O Lord, are Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalm 107:11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Story about the Prince of Babylon (sometimes associated with the fall of Lucifer)
Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
Lamentations 3:34-39 To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth, 35 to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, 36 to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve. 37 Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? 39 Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Verses in Daniel are a different Aramaic word, illay, with similar meaning which means “highest” in relation to God.
Daniel 7:18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
Daniel 7:22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
Daniel 7:25 He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Daniel 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king,
Verses from the New Testament are translated from the Greek, ho theos ho hupsistos, the God the highest.
Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
Luke 1:76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
Thoughts from the Awaken Class Discussion: Jeremy taught today and had a terrific application for the study of this name! If YHWH is really the LORD, Most High then we should be willing to let HIM direct and control our lives. We say we follow El Elyon but are we really? Are we willing to concede the control of our circumstances to HIM and to let HIM lead? How often do we allow the worldly kings in our lives to control and manipulate us like the king of Sodom attempted to do to Abram?